Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finding the Will to Edit

When it comes to writing I become a bit of a perfectionist, therefore I freak out a bit in the editing process. It seems like every comment I get back on my work makes me cringe. I want my book to be the best it can be, but that goals seems unobtainable.

I get to a place in the editing processes where I get stuck. I know it's not good enough, I know what kind of it work it's going to take to polish everything and I just get stuck. Then I don't do anything. Then I get writing withdrawals and my brain starts feeding my shiny new ideas.


I know I shouldn't chase these ideas. I know I need to sit down and be disciplined enough to edit.


source


I love my book, really I do. I want to see it through to the end. I want to submit it to agents and publishers and I want to hold it in my hands someday and know that I accomplished something. But I just can't seem to get past the thoughts of how flawed everything is.

Does anyone else have this issue? What have you done to work through it?



39 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

I have this issue every single day. I haven't really worked out how to get over it yet, I just sit at the computer and chase myself around in circles.

I know this comment is fairly useless, but I wanted you to know that I absolutely know what you are going through!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sorry! I struggle with the first draft. The edits are much easier.

Ava Jae said...

I've found that when the amount of editing necessary starts to feel overwhelming, that tackling one problem at a time (rather than looking at ALL of them) can really help make the task more manageable. As for sticking with the story when the editing becomes difficult...it becomes more of a matter of discipline and deciding what you really want: do you want to make your current WIP the best it can be or do you want to start a new one? There isn't a right or wrong answer--it just depends on your goals.

Joanne said...

I enjoy the edits, it's when I really layer the story. But still, I think as writers we're never 100% satisfied, and will always find something we can change in a story, every time we read it.

Deana said...

Ugh, this sounds like me in a nutshell! I actually am pretty good going through edits until it turns out I need big overhauls and then I start to doubt whether I can do it or not.
Maybe give it a couple days to stew over the edits and dive in. I like printing out chunks of the book and making notes.
Also, I say you need to make notes about those shiny new ideas, because you don't want to forget them:)
Good luck! You can do it!

Tara Tyler said...

i am there!
give it to a beta or cp! then you can come back to it with more ambition to see thru another's eyes! we are always harder on ourselves =)

shelly said...

DO I EVER! This is exactly where I am right now. I'm at the point of major overhaul and I start to wonder what is possible. (BTW that comic made me laugh)

Ruth Josse said...

This is me! I used to think that I liked the editing phase, but have learned to hate it. So what did I do? Gave in to the shiny idea. Sigh. But it's just a short hiatus so I can gain some prospective. Good luck and keep at it! Your story will be awesome. :)

Krista McLaughlin said...

Me too! Editing is like the bane of my existence... I don't like doing it and I'm not sure that I can ever get it written the way that I want to, but I try. If you can find a shortcut or something, let me know lol. :)

Cassie Mae said...

Oh man, I'm like Alex. First drafts are harder for me than the edits. I love sending stuff out to my cps and getting their notes back and then fixing and smacking myself in the forehead and primping and polishing and reading and re-reading and all that stuff.

But, there does come a time when I need to step away for at least a couple weeks, then dive back in. Fresh eyes you know.

Don't get discouraged, we all have to go through it. And you'll get your swagger back :)

cherie said...

Little breaks are good. I'm editing right now, and while I don't hate it, I don't completely love it either (maybe because I'm lazy at the moment. Ha! And there are waaaayyyy too many distractions. But I do find that I grow to love my story more as I see it shaping up to its potential. While writing first drafts are fun and exhilarating, editing is like getting to grow up and having more focus.

Good luck and I hope that you'll get out of the editing funk soon!

Morgan said...

"Does anyone else have this issue?" <-----Ah-hahaha! Ohhhh man... trust me, we are ALL THERE. All of us at one point or another depending on which stage is the hardest for us. Like others above me, first drafts are the HARDEST for me. I love the cleaning, editing, polishing part... but getting the right story arcs and pacing and progression nailed... that's what frustrates me to NO END. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Don't even get me started! You're a fabulous storyteller, J.A. Just remember that when you're eyeball deep in it, okay?

Angela Brown said...

Well, I'd like to say there's an easy way to get over it. Since there isn't, I won't lie and say you're going to have complete confidence in your writing overnight. So, remember one important thing: everything written is flawed in some way because it's all subjective.

I want you to look at the words in your MS, feel how you tingle with excitement as you read one line after the other, then strap on a helmet and shield so you can finish up any edits, put your query package together and stand strong for the rejections, partial and full requests that are to come. In the end, belief in your work is essential.

Laura said...

I know this one! The best thing an editor said to me is that - writing is a living creature - you can groom it and tidy it up, but polishing it can kill it. Don't polish all the life and spark out of your story.
Easy for them to say, huh?!

Enjoy your words - and good luck - I know where you're at
Lx

Leigh Covington said...

Yes! Honestly - I think there is always somebody who can find something wrong with everything. It can be aggravating. Go read this blog post: http://anallegedauthor.blogspot.com/2012/02/ahhhthe-voices.html

I loved it and I think it will help you feel better.

Lynda R Young said...

Yup, it can be daunting. I heard it put this way once: it's like eating an elephant--you can only do it one bite at a time. (lol)

JEFritz said...

Trust me, you're not alone. For me, editing is a big creativity-suck. Right now I'm trying to power through. Doing a little bit in short bursts seems to help.

Mark Noce said...

I feel ya..I'm doing edits myself right now. But keep it up...that way I can be one of the first to read your revisions:)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Oh, edits. We definitely have a love/hate relationship. I start with the big things first, get those kinks out and take a small break. Then I do the smaller things like tweaking sentences, taking out repetitive words, etc. I like to make a list of everything I have to do and cross them off when I finish. Lists make me happy. And seeing those crossed off things make me even happier! :D Good luck!!

Vince said...

It's very hard to edit your own work. Few of us are a John McGahern. Most of us need a figure that we fear and one who will give us a mental scurging should it be required.

Best of luck.

Sarah Pearson said...

This is where I am right now. Popular advice says to ignore the little things at first - what's the point of changing words if you're going to rewrite that whole section later? - but for me, achieving even a small task makes me feel like I'm doing something.

Jocelyn Rish said...

I could have written this post, since I'm REALLY struggling with the same thing right now. So I don't have any helpful advice, just faith that we'll both get through it if we want it bad enough.

I’ve been slow in making my rounds, but I’m saying howdy from the YA campaign group.

Tia Bach said...

I get lost in editing. I enjoy it, but I don't know when to stop. You know the actors who swear they never watch their performances? I feel that way about my novel. I don't want to read it again, so afraid I'll start editing all over again. At some point, you have to let it go. I just wish I had better advice as to what that point is.

(And I'm in your #3 campaign group)

Good luck!

Peaches Ledwidge said...

I don't like editing because I want to change everything and add more information than I should, but I trudge through it because...

Peggy Eddleman said...

I think everyone gets those thoughts! I usually just break it down into a few small things. I figure I can fix just that small little thing, then that small little thing... and before you know it, the fact that I can see it getting so much better gives me such a high, I'm addicted.

....But then it resurfaces again before I get to the end, especially when I'm working on the mundane parts, then I think I might wring its neck before I get to the end...

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yup. And sometimes you need to take a break from it and come back at it fresh.

Crystal Pistol said...

My editing is a big mess at this stage in the game. I only blog and am not writing anything serious at the moment. I've become downright sloppy.

Melissa Sugar said...

You have just described my feelings exactly, as if you jumped inside my brain for an editing tour. I am certain we all have feelings like this and some are more intense than others. I am on the over-intense side. When I look at editing as a whole I become so overwhelmed and anxious that I choke. It is like trying to organize my messy house. I don't know here to start and when I attempt it feels like all I am doing is moving one giant heaping mess to another spot. When I break it down into small manageable steps, I manage to attack it. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) I don't have any deadlines other than self imposed so if I relax and remind myself that nothing terrible is going to happen if I take my time , I feel less overwhelmed.

Holly Lisle is supposed to have an excellent and tough revision/editing on-line course that gets rave reviews. Best of luck, you can do it.

Hope Roberson said...

I feel exactly the same way! There isn't a day I don't look at my writing and start tweaking a sentence or searching out a word I use too often. Every time I send a few chapters out I'm secretly hoping that my cp says it's ready, but there are always blue marks, which only makes my writing stronger :) Someday, right?

Theresa Milstein said...

I do have the same problem. I don't query long enough or I don't change manuscripts based when I'm receiving rejections. Then those shiny new ideas wait to be written...

Hope Roberson said...

I've tagged you in the Lucky 7 Meme on my blog :)

Kate Coursey said...

I do exactly the same thing. Editing is always the worst part, and being a perfectionist just makes it worse. I use my shiny new idea as a reward. One hour of work on revisions, a half hour on the shiny new idea.

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I have this issue, too, actually. Mainly the cringing part :)

I cope by giving myself freedom to slack off. Writing the novel is the hard part. Editing is the work. No one likes work. But, I fall in love with my characters, with my plot. So, I take it in sections, "I'll edit one chapter today," "I'll edit five pages today."

Small achievable goals. That way you have time for your other ideas, too. And, best yet? You don't feel like a schmuck for ignoring your new baby :)

David P. King said...

I've had this issue. Still do. I've found it best to put it down for a little while, pick it up again, and try to enjoy it without changing it (unless something really stands out). It gets to a point where you can't do anything more for it - only other eyes can point out the potential problems. Share and let the feedback help direct you. :)

Carolyn V said...

Oh my gosh! Me too. I cry a little, eat some junk food. j/k. I schedule out which chapters I'm going to finish that day so I don't get stuck on all the work I feel like I have to do. It helps me a ton! Good luck on the editing!

Gwen said...

I struggle more with self editing, I always have to send it away. Once I actually look at the edits, things go okay. But it's actually opening up that file that I delay. By weeks sometimes even XD I know it all for my and my work's benefit, but it's still hard to see.

Jayrod Garrett said...

I think every good writer has this issue. And I think the answer is different for every author. I know that I have to write something multiple times to be able to get it right. (Seriously I just got to a good part of my story and then realized that knowing all that was crucial for me, but not for my readers... so I get to start over again. AHH!) But trust yourself. You know what works and what doesn't for you. And you will make your book a beautiful thing.
Oh by the way, I nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Just thought you might like to know.

Christa Desir said...

Yes. And I know that you will hate to hear this, but I guarantee if you walk away from it for 3 months and write something else and then come back to it, you will be able to fix/polish/finish in no time. The juice is worth the squeeze. Trust me.